By a unanimous vote Tuesday night, the Falls Church School Board adopted a budget for the coming fiscal year that will seek a 5.4 percent increase in the transfer from the City, a number almost identical with what Superintendent Dr. Toni Jones proposed to kick off the board’s budget deliberations in January. The School Board voted for a total operating budget of $48,623,400, a five percent increase of this year, that includes a requested transfer from the City of $40,362,000, up by 5.4 percent from this current year’s $38,298,700.
“This is almost unheard of, for a School Board to be in such concurrence with the Superintendent on the budget,” Hunter Kimble, the School’s chief financial officer, told the News-Press after Tuesday’s vote. The vote was 6-0, with one member Erin Gill absent due to illness and another, Phil Reitinger, whose vote counted, who attended via telephone.
“This was a tough budget, with no more money but more kids,” said board vice chair John Lawrence. “But we got it done in time and with consensus. Board chair Justin Castillo chimed in, “Our mission is to provide high quality free K-12 education, with our ultimate accountability being to the students. We worked well as a board and I am pleased with the contributions of everyone.” Reitinger added, over the speaker phone, “We did the best for our students by doing the best for our teachers and for the means for them to do with jobs.”
The School Board budget, the details hammered out at a work session Saturday morning, added to the Superintendent’s budget $19,700 for a “topped out bonus,” an additional half-time techer for the gifted and talented, an increase of $27,500 for additional instructional supplies, $50,000 for a CO project assistant and $10,000 for a teacher workforce climate survey. It cut from the Superintendent’s budget $10,000 for legal services, $50,000 for a communications assistant and $98,400 from the contingency fund.
The budget now goes the City Manager, who is required by law to add it without changes to his City operating budget recommendation to the City Council that will be forthcoming in two weeks, including whatever changes in the real estate and other tax rates may be required to achieve a balanced budget overall, which the City Council will have until the end of April to shape for the coming fiscal year that will begin July 1.